Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Persuading someone to meet with you

As a journalist I have been getting meetings with people for so long I have to stop and think of the techniques I use. It doesn't hurt if you're representing, as I used to be, an international wire service or magazine.

Dorie Clark sums up the rules for being effective:
If you’re asking someone you don’t know for a half-hour, or even 10 minutes, you have to think of your request like you’re making a VC pitch. Why should they speak to you? How can you establish your credibility upfront? How will it benefit them? How can you pack the greatest ROI into the shortest time?
This sounds remarkably like the rules for persuading people in a speech or an article:
  • Understand your audience
  • Know what they need or want
  • Offer it to them
Those people you want to meet? Everyone else wants to meet them, too, meaning you have to give them a reason to see you. They want to know: what's in it for me?

Here's one of those people. Steve Blank is an entrepreneur and academic in Silicon Valley. You can read what he thinks about requests for his time here. The bottom line for him? "Who is offering to teach me something I don’t know?"

So instead of what you want, you have to start with what the other person wants. You have to do your homework. If you don't have anything to offer you might want to rethink your reason for wanting a meeting in the first place.

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